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Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation Celebrates Delivering Over 4M Books to TN Students and Teachers Since 2020

In collaboration with Scholastic, over 700,000 Tennessee students, media specialists and librarians statewide have benefitted from the program, sharing the positive impact these books have had on their classrooms and homes

Nashville, Tenn.  – WEBWIRE

To combat learning loss and strengthen early literacy in Tennessee, Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) celebrates the fifth year of its K-3 Home Library program, serving all rising 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students enrolled in a public school, as well as librarians and media specialists. In collaboration with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, the program has placed more than 4.4 million books in the homes of more than 739,000 elementary school students and teachers over the program’s history.

This summer, the program will deliver an additional 1.3 million books to more than 230,000 students, teachers, librarians and media specialists statewide. Six high-quality packages consisting of grade-level books and evidence-based literacy resources will be delivered directly to the homes of participants, at no cost to families, individual schools, or school districts.

Through the K-3 Home Library program, GELF is partnering with 162 school districts and charter schools to deliver books in all 95 Tennessee counties. Children enrolled in a participating school district were signed up to receive the books with an opt-out option for families, making it easy for all K-3 students to be a part of the program. The program continues to grow and will distribute more than 170,000 additional books to roughly 28,000 more students and teachers than in 2023.

The books were selected by GELF’s Educator Advisory Council (EAC), a group of 28 diverse Tennessee educators that serve GELF’s K-3 initiatives. The EAC also created activity-based resources that are being provided to teachers and parents to help them incorporate the program’s books both inside the classroom and in homes.

Only 40% of Tennessee 3rd graders read proficiently, up from 32% in 2021. Research shows that students who do not read over the summer lose two to three months of reading proficiency, but reading four to six books has the potential to stop, mitigate, or reverse this “summer slide.” Additionally, when schools are closed for the summer, access to books diminishes. Research from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™: 8th Edition shows that over 40% of kids get most of the books they read for fun from their school, making the expansion of this summer initiative more critical than ever.

Research from Statewide surveys conducted by GELF reveal 33% of participating students have 100+ books in their home as a result of the K-3 Home Library program. Additionally, 97% of parents reported

that their children were excited to receive the books and 96% reported the books were valuable to their family.

“If you read today, you’re ready tomorrow,” said James Pond, GELF President. “As we celebrate our 20th anniversary as an organization and fifth year of the K-3 Home Library program, our goal is to create a more inclusive literacy environment by ensuring access to quality books and resources for all. Every child deserves their very own home library, and we are honored to work together with school districts, charter schools, and the Tennessee General Assembly to build these home libraries statewide. It’s more than books. It’s the future of Tennessee.”

This is GELF’s fifth year collaborating with Scholastic to deliver books and resources to students and teachers during the summer. The K-3 Home Library program launched as a pilot in Summer 2020, serving 75 school districts with 21,000 books mailed statewide. Since then, the number of school districts served has grown by 116% and the number of books has grown by 6,000%.

“Scholastic is proud to have partnered with GELF over the last five years and to continue the important work to expand book access to the children who need it most,” said Beth Polcari, Executive Vice President and President of Scholastic Education Solutions. “It is crucial that we create a culture of reading and equip students with the tools necessary to be successful in their literacy journeys year-round, especially during the summer months when book access diminishes.”

“As a classroom educator whose students have directly benefitted from the K-3 Home Library Program, it is truly special to witness first-hand the smiles, laughter, and excitement as they return to school from summer break and share with one another the memories they have made with their book packs,” said Meredith McMackins, Second Grade Teacher at Fifth Consolidated Elementary School. “The books provide students with the perfect opportunity to utilize and maintain their reading skills. I am incredibly thankful for the K-3 Home Library Program and extremely proud of the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation’s commitment and success in strengthening early literacy for all students across Tennessee.”

Since 2020, the response from children, parents and caregivers has been overwhelmingly positive, sharing feedback about the excitement of receiving new books in the mail, the joy of sharing stories together and the magic of escaping through a good book.

“I love books. I am excited that the books are my very own. I have a library in my bedroom, and I am going to be a better reader,” said Raylynn Byars, rising second grader and K-3 Home Library recipient.

“One of my favorite things about the K-3 Home library is the connections it has provided for so many across our state,” said Katie Spears, PK-8th grade Librarian and EAC member. “It has provided my own family connections through stories and exposure to fun facts and places. I have connected with my students through book talks and activities provided with book delivery. An added bonus is the connections with the talented educators across Tennessee. The impact of this program on literacy in our state is invaluable, and I hope to see book deliveries for many more years to come.”

[p"I am so excited for books to come to my house for me,” said Birdie Spears, rising second grader and K-3 Home Library recipient. “I love getting my own mail and opening it up and seeing what books are inside! The animal books are my favorite, because I love animals!”[/p]

GELF Vice President, Dean Hoskins, was joined by Dwaine Millard, Senior Vice President at Scholastic Education Solutions, and children’s book author Lester Laminack at Waverly Belmont Elementary in Nashville, Tenn. on June 6 to celebrate and kick off the fifth year of the K-3 Home Library program with participating students and teachers. Lester Laminack performed a special read-aloud of his book, Three Hens and a Peacock, and local mascots helped distribute books to students and teachers in attendance.

The K-3 Home Library program is underwritten by the State of Tennessee.

This announcement is a part of GELF’s 20th anniversary campaign to celebrate its statewide early literacy mission and engage families around their key programs, including Birth-5 Book Delivery through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, K-3 Home Library and Caregiver Engagement, and community initiatives, including the Statewide Early Literacy Education Collaborative of Tennessee (SELECT), Tenn Under 10, powered by PNC, and Literacy Lights.

Family involvement is a key component to this campaign, as the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report shows that parents of frequent readers are more likely to be aware of the loss of academic skills connected to summer reading habits than parents of infrequent readers (59% vs. 46%). GELF encourages Tennesseans to join the Foundation on social media this summer by posting photos of their children reading with the hashtags #BookersBookClubTN #JustKeepReading. For more information, follow @GovEarlyLiteracyTN or visit

About GELF

Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) equips Tennessee’s children with books and innovative literacy tools that encourage lifelong learning for a brighter future. GELF is a nonpartisan 501c3 driven by a mission to strengthen early literacy in Tennessee by acting as a thought leader, advisor, and catalyst for programs across the state. GELF was founded in 2004 by former Gov. Phil Bredesen as a public-private partnership to sustain Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Tennessee. GELF has grown from solely a book-gifting program to an early literacy organization driven by a vision where all Tennessee children have access to the resources, guidance, and support they need to become lifelong learners. For more information, visit or, or call toll-free at (877) 99-BOOKS.

About Scholastic

For more than 100 years, Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) has been encouraging the personal and intellectual growth of all children, beginning with literacy. Having earned a reputation as a trusted partner to educators and families, Scholastic is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, a leading provider of literacy curriculum, professional services, and classroom magazines, and a producer of educational and entertaining children’s media. The Company creates and distributes bestselling books and e-books, print and technology-based learning programs for pre-K to grade 12, and other products and services that support children’s learning and literacy, both in school and at home. With international operations and exports in more than 135 countries, Scholastic makes quality, affordable books available to all children around the world through

school-based book clubs and book fairs, classroom libraries, school and public libraries, retail, and online. Learn more at


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